From: Bangor, Maine, USA
ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets
I have to say, I'm getting a little worried about this release.
Let's take the July 1st date to actually mean something, that leaves just 3 1/2 months of programming left. Is that really enough time to finish?
And if the July 1st date doesn't mean anything, why put it out there? Why this cryptic "no comment" after mentioning the date? Was it just a bubble to see what our reactions would be? I think we deserve better than that.
I was fine with the mantra of it will be done when Steve is finished.
Now it just seems like the mantra has changed to "We have to release something...anything...Now!" And this was obviously internal, as we WiFers have pretty much become apathetic towards a release date.
Let's face it most of us on this forum will buy whatever is released. I was hoping, after so many years in developement, for a successful product release that would justify continued support on the part of Matrix and Steve. But flip flopping on major business/marketing strategies this late in the process is not a good sign.
Perhaps it would have been better if I had said nothing.
As for my "no comment", I just don't want to get involved in a long discussion about the zillion of possible questions/issues related to the initial MWIF product release. I have neither the time nor the inclination.
Of course it would have been better if you aren't ready. In case you have forgotten, you decided not to give release dates after you missed July 1st, 2009, then Sept 2009. I know that sounds snippy, which is not like me, but I thought it had to be said.
No one forced you to respond to Joseignacio request. You could have wisely ignored it like the previous hundred times it had been asked. But something did make you respond this time.
I have followed your posts on this site for...a long time. I have seen your graphs. You have included us in many of your thought processes. I know you would not have given a July 1st date off the top of your head. You know what would be included with such a deadline. To announce it would cost you no time whatsover. If you aren't inclined, you wouldn't even have to read our long discussions and zillions of questions/issues either.
The bottom line is I really don't care what is to be included on an initial release, I'm going to buy it. However, I do believe you are making a mistake not anonouncing it. I remember the excitement on this board before your June 2009 update. It will take a few months for that excitement level to build again.
I also believe you are making a mistake if after all these years you are releasing a product you had not intended. But I do understand that sometimes compromises have to be made. I wish you the best and you will continue to have my support.
I'm going to try to respond to this, not on Steve's behalf, but of my own volition. Since I am not Steve or a Matrix employee, I have to adhere to the Non-Disclosure Agreement, and that might make what I have to say seem a little cryptic, so I'm going to apologize for that before I say anything.
I think there have been a lot of signs that MWiF is closing on a release date over the last 6 months. A good example of this is the work that Steve and the beta-testers did to finish up the Players Manual last summer, and his announcement in the Montly Reports that it had gone to the Matrix Games editors. You can't have a manual without a game that works the way you expect it to work, can you? Other indications are the Barbarossa AAR that Orm and I ran in the early autumn, the one I am running now, and the fact that bugs have started to trickle down to the "rules violation" variety instead of the "game crash" type. Also, some of the most annoying large-scale issues have been dealt with: supply, Vichy Declaration, and most of the Production Planning issues are now cleared up. Yes, a few remain, but there's still time to finish those up.
If you look back through the Monthly Reports, there are even more indications.
In November, Steve announced the addition of sound effects to the game. That's pure chrome, and that kind of thing can only mean that the game is coming close to completion. How close, I can't say. That isn't just due to the NDA I signed, but because there still could be bumps in the road ahead.
In July, Steve settled on the Optional Rules that would not be included in the initial release. He also listed the ones he hoped to include if he could. That's another good indication that things are winding down to a finish. Unfortunately, Steve had some serious health issues the next 2 months, and that limited the time he could put in to some extent. I have to say, though, that the entire beta-test team did a good job picking up the slack.
There are, however, a lot of things that remain to be determined. Which rules are going to be included and which aren't going to make the cut? How quickly can we finalize all of the standardized screen layouts, tutorials, and "educational" material? (Some is completely finished, but some isn't). There is a lot of work still to be done. Much of this work relies on volunteers, and there are any number of things that can interfere with a volunteer's ability to contribute to his potential (pneumonia, for instance ).
I'll tell you the truth. It was a surprise to see Steve post his expectations here, but I don't truly think it was unfair of him to say that he wouldn't speak more on the subject. He has more important work to do than to try to describe everything that will be included in the initial release. I don't mean that to be offensive. Just ask yourself which you would prefer: Do you want a full accounting of the product Steve expects to deliver? Or would you rather have Steve spend that time finishing the product he expects to deliver?
Steve reads through everything that is posted in this forum, and he responds to as much as time allows. Believe me, it is a very time-consuming endeavor. In the work I've been doing on the Global War AAR, I'd say that anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 of my time is spent creating detailed explanations of what is happening, not only for posting in the forum, but also for the notes I take on the progress of the game and any bugs I might encounter. Only about 1/3 of my "MWiF time" is actually spent running the game itself. I don't actually know how many lines of code MWiF has, but I know that Steve inserts notes on ideas he has for coding certain aspects of the program, and also on how some of the bug fixes were created so that he can reference it later if something should go wrong again.
Steve is also responsible to Matrix Games, himself, and the beta-testers for what he says (as we all are), not to mention the readers of these forums. None of us can just shoot off a quick post to answer questions, especially Steve. We have to put serious thought into what we say, so that we don't end up misleading anyone. That also takes time.
As to the level of involvement the people from Matrix should have in the forums, I really have no opinion. In my work as a beta-tester, I've found them to be fairly responsive to my needs, but I've had little need to contact them. Most of the questions or suggestions I've had went to Steve, and when it was appropriate, he referred me to the Matrix people.
I count myself very lucky to be involved in the process of helping to build this incredible game. Steve would not have said anything if he were not confident. (I think he learned his lesson on that one back in 2009 -- no, Steve, that isn't a dig). But I do know, based on my involvement, that Steve works daily, with a passion that I've never seen before, to get this finished as elegantly as possible. Please accept that, and know that your curiosity will be answered in time.
Thanks for reading this, and I hope it helps to clear up some of the confusion surrounding Steve's comments. I will apologize once again for anything that may have sounded cryptic, and I'd also like to apologize to Steve if I have said anything to mis-represent his views.
Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it!
-Lazarus Long, RAH